Quickly and Easily Archive Photos: We Review the Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanner

Most of us over 30 have at least a box of old photo prints in a closet somewhere, and scanning them is a useful but tedious task. The Epson FastFoto FF-680W scanner seeks to perform this task quickly and easily while producing high quality results, and in this review we look at what you can expect from it in practice.

I’ve had a box of about 2,500 photos from my childhood for many years now, and I’ve always intended to digitize them, especially since they will only degrade over time. There is a mix of all sorts of sizes, including standards like 4×6″ and 5×7″, as well as other niche sizes such as the 4×11″ panoramic from the old APS photo system.

The problem is that before, scanning them was really tedious, and I never got good results with my standard tray. I could buy a dedicated tray for scanning photos, but I don’t like moving photos one by one by hand. So the prospect of a sheet-fed scanner that could handle a variety of sizes while still producing a high-quality image was particularly intriguing. Enter the Epson FastFoto FF-680W.

Features

  • Scanner type: single-pass duplex color
  • Optical resolution: 600 dpi
  • Color depth: 30 bits internal (24 bits external)
  • Grayscale bit depth: 10 bits internal (8 bits external)
  • Features: auto-enhance, color restoration, red-eye reduction, straighten, crop, rotate
  • Output resolution: 50 to 1200 dpi
  • Effective pixels: 5100 x 21600 pixels
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • ADF capacity: 36 photos or 100 sheets
  • Minimum document size: 2×2″
  • Minimum photo size: wallet (2.5 x 3.5 inches)
  • Maximum document size: 8.5 x 240 inches
  • Maximum photo size: 8.5 x 36 inches
  • Scanning speed: One photo per second at 300 dpi
  • Output formats: JPEG and TIFF
  • Price: $499

Content, design and configuration

In the box are the scanner, a getting started guide, a USB 3.0 cable, a power cable, a carrier sheet and a cleaning cloth. Setup is very simple: download the software, plug it in, connect the USB cable (you can also send images via Wi-Fi), and away you go.

The scanner’s design is logical and easy to use. All the controls are in a column at the bottom right of the top, including power, connect and Wi-Fi toggle, double feed detection skip, slow mode, shutdown and scan. The dual-feed feature is particularly nice: if the scanner grabs two photos at the same time, it detects this and alerts you so you can fix it and not miss scanning an image.

From there, you are ready to load the input tray. You can start analyzes via the button or the software (see below).

Software

The FastFoto software is easy to understand and very relevant, without unnecessary frills, which I appreciate. Nonetheless, it still offers the kind of customization options you’d expect. You can choose the following:

  • save location
  • Image enhancements including:
    • Automatic improvement
    • Remove red eye
    • Restore faded colors
  • Whether to apply the enhancements to the originals or create a second copy
  • Upload to Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Scan resolution
  • Simplex or duplex scanning (you can also configure it to reject blank backs)
  • JPEG or TIFF

Normally I wouldn’t ask software to automatically enhance images, as I prefer to do my own editing. However, when scanning thousands of old family prints, many faded from the sun, some with red eyes, some underexposed, etc., having the ability to put them in the stadium from the start is nice, and Epson’s software did enough work for archival copies that I was happy to leave enabled. For the most important photos, I always had the unedited scans that I could manually edit.

The software also lets you assign logical filenames to photos, such as a tag and date, making it easier to organize them properly.

Treat

Once I dialed in all my settings (all auto-editing options on, custom filenames, and 600 dpi resolution), all I had to do was put 36 prints in the input tray and tell the software to start scanning. Despite the double-feed detection feature, when scanning around 2,500 photos of varying sizes, many of which were previously bent or curled, the scanner never had a jam or double-feed.

At 600 dpi, each batch of 36 took about three minutes. I edited a few movies, and before I knew it, a family project that I had been putting off for years ended in an afternoon. The efficiency, reliability, and enhancement features were all very impressive.

Image quality

Keep in mind that these are mostly scans of grocery store photo counter prints of images taken on consumer cameras 30 years ago. The scans are excellent. And when the Epson is presented with better print quality, it holds up perfectly well.

As you can see, the scanner’s auto-enhancement does a great job, removing haze, adding some contrast and saturation, and correcting hue, all without going overboard. If you’re scanning thousands of photos and don’t want to adjust each one by hand, I highly recommend trusting the software to take care of that for you.

In terms of capturing detail, you’ll be limited by the resolution of your prints, not the scanner, as it’s quite excellent. As you can see in the professional print above, which I chose to challenge a bit more, the scanner had no problem capturing all the detail the print had to offer.

If you’re scanning a bunch of older family prints and don’t have access to the negatives (as was my situation), just going through something like Topaz Sharpen AI can help give them that final polishing touch. I did this for some of the older prints, and it helped bring them up to a bit more modern standard.

What I liked

  • Can handle any print size imaginable
  • Reliable and fast automatic adjustment
  • Intelligent two-sided scanning
  • Extremely simple process
  • Fast, jam-free scanning
  • Excellent image quality
  • Can also scan documents
  • Wi-Fi and USB connectivity
  • Optional TIFF output

What I did not like

Conclusion and purchase

Overall, the Epson FastFoto FF-680W is a solid, well-designed device that offers the kind of versatility and image quality that professionals have come to expect. You can add photo scanning to your services and make it profitable quite easily. You can buy yours here.

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